Went to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story at its first Halifax screening on Thursday night. I was pretty psyched—I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since I saw the first movie at seven years old.
Since then I’ve become a film blogger—obviously—and I’ve also written and talked about movies professionally, as the former Film Editor at The Coast, Halifax’s alt-weekly, in the pages of The Globe and Mail and National Post, on CBC radio, and semi-regularly on CTV Morning Live Atlantic.
Though I’m not paid for that TV gig, they kindly advocate for me to have a Premiere Card. That’s the all-access card Cineplex provides to media, allowing me to go see movies for free. As I’m sure you can imagine, the card makes a big difference to my professional and personal life, and I very much appreciate Cineplex and CTV for it.
Thursday was the first time in the year-and-a-half I’ve had the card that it didn’t work. My contact at Cineplex told me of Disney’s new decree: No passes or vouchers of any kind will be accepted for Rogue One until January 2nd.
I was NOT going to let that keep me out. I paid for my ticket to see the movie, just like all the other fans.
Disney probably screened Rogue One in advance for press in larger markets like Toronto, but this is a pretty aggressive change in the way the studio treats the media in a smaller place like Halifax. Feels like a tipping point to me. For years now we’ve been talking about the “critic proof” blockbuster. This is Disney doubling down on that idea.
They’re not going to bother with the critics out here anymore. We have no role in their marketing plans. They’ve got Gillette and Duracell in their corner, and the movie’s name on a Nissan crossover. They’ve got a pervasive social media plan and the most loyal fanbase ever—one that came back even after the largely abysmal prequels. What possible advantage is there for the Mouse House to let some trumped-up nerd in for free?
And, you know, I’m sure a few folks reading this are hearing the smallest violin playing just for me. I get that—I’m a privileged motherslapper, and maybe this is just the way film criticism is going. That’s a conversation worth having.
But, here’s what I can do.
I’m totally free to write or not write about Rogue One, talk or not talk about it. Next week there’s Passengers and Assassin’s Creed and La La Land to keep me busy.
I’ll save discussing the new Star Wars movie until, say, January 2.